In some cases, the interchange may develop into a 'destination', where opportunities present themselves to enhance the interchange experience, lifting spirits for users and encouraging investment and socio-economic and physical regeneration in surrounding areas.

Facilities provided at interchanges can provide added value to passengers and to non-travelling users. Equally, they provide opportunities for transport operators and facilities providers to attract custom and revenue. The range and scale of facilities will depend on the functional needs of individual interchange facilities and zones. These are likely to be larger at major interchanges so assessment requires listing of provision as well as opportunities for what could be provided.

A safe, attractive, efficient, well maintained interchange facility or zone, presenting opportunities for optional or social activities and integrated with its community and surroundings will encourage people to value and use public transport.

Do interchange zone facilities meet the needs of interchange users, operators and owners?

Different users will perceive added value functions in different ways, dependent on their role in the use or operation of the interchange facility or zone.

Passengers will be sensitive to convenience and ease of interchanging modes, as well as safety, comfort and cleanliness of the areas they must pass through. They will notice the time it takes to interchange, the quality of the interchange itself and the facilities provided, and opportunities on offer, as activities along a journey or as destinations in their own right.

Public and private transport operators will look at the interchange facility or zone from a more commercial perspective, principally in terms of generating business - by advertising services from one mode to the next, and promoting their services via the facilities and other functions on offer in and outside of the interchange facility or zone.

Operators also require facilities for their staff, for example, toilets, refreshment areas and mess rooms.

In larger interchange zones, an interchange facility or zone operator (or station manager) will be present, and have a different perspective. Their priority is fast and efficient management of the interchange facility or zone, as well as seamless safety procedures and successful maintenance regimes. They will have an interest in the quality and function of the interchange zone's facilities and will also maximise the potential for commercial returns through the franchise of wider functions and facilities of the interchange zone.

Understanding and meeting the needs of all the above is a fundamental challenge if we are to deliver interchange facilities or zones that meet or exceed national and local targets for quality of design and help improve perceptions of public transport as a positive mode choice.

Do interchange zone facilities add value to the user experience?

The extent of the facilities provided will depend on the size and scale of the interchange facility or zone. However, all interchange facilities or zones should aspire to provide the following basic facilities:

  • Timetables and/or departure boards (including taxi and bus information if not already included)
  • Accessible toilets
  • Seating or rest areas
  • Realtime departures displays
  • Local network maps
  • Local area maps including routes through adjoining public buildings where these form part of the interchange movement
  • Interchange facility including exits and amenities
  • Cycle parking
  • Helpline telephone or Help Point
  • Clocks
  • Bins and recycling facilities, where practicable and safe

See also Service information.

Luggage, clocks
A simple clock can greatly assist passengers, so long as it is well located, legible and accurate. Clocks should be provided at all interchange facilities preferably on every platform, in every ticket hall and at other points where passengers may need to make a journey decision. In a place where time is so important, a clock is a basic functional requirement.

Depending on function and scale of the interchange zone, luggage trolleys and left luggage facilities may also be considered.

Safety should be a major factor when considering the provision of these facilities, as trolleys can represent a hazard in certain areas of an interchange, so should be excluded from these areas by methods such as barriers or rumble strips. Trolley parks should, as far as possible, be located where the chances of passengers returning the trolleys are maximised. Where it is permitted to carry trolleys by escalator they should be escalator compatible.

Toilets and baby changing facilities
Where possible, accessible toilets and baby changing facilities should be provided within the interchange zone. They should be clearly signed and identified on all relevant maps and information. Toilets could be provided via collaboration with local authorities, public transport operators or facilities close by which could be used by agreement.

All aspects of public toilet design and their provision must incorporate advice from the Crime and Disorder Partnership Unit. Accessible toilets for use by people with disabilities should be provided as required by the DDA. Ideally, they should not be locked, although radar key technology is an increasing common and preferable method of regulating access.

Seating and waiting areas
Seating provision provides greater comfort to all passengers, but is especially important for passengers who are mobility impaired. Seating should be provided at frequent intervals, ideally every 50 metres, and adjacent to, but not obstructing, pedestrian flows. Further guidance on seating can be found in our Streetscape guidance.

Retail, food, leisure
Interchange zones are not just transport spaces, they are also public spaces. Passengers generally welcome the provision of non-transport facilities such as shops, places to buy food and drink, and cash machines. These allow them to make productive use of the time that they spend waiting for their next service and make the wait more enjoyable.

These facilities provide an important service for people living and working in the surrounding area and, by bringing activity into an interchange zone, can make passengers feel more secure, particularly during less busy periods of the day or during the evening, by providing natural surveillance.

See also Urban realm.

Advertising and other sponsorship material should be carefully placed, not dominating a passenger's line of vision to cover up or distract from movement information. Advertising should not be located in decision spaces and careful consideration should be given when it is located adjacent to key directional information.

Hours of use
Similarly, hours of use will affect use of facilities. These may be independent of the transport function hours. Transport only areas may be possible to close off when services are not in operation, while other areas of the interchange zone such as retail or leisure may operate at different hours.

Do interchange connections maximise convenience and ease of use?

Interchange facilities exist to link up different elements of London's transport network and help people get where they want to go. Providing for movement between public transport services, feeder modes and the surrounding urban context is a prerequisite of any interchange zone. Best practice examples offer routes which feel safe, are accessible to all, are unobstructed, have good surfaces and are generally not overcrowded.

Natural desire lines should be supported whenever possible - attempting to force passengers into unnecessarily long or circuitous routes can lead to recommended routes being ignored in favour of ones which may place passengers in danger or cause unnecessary pedestrian conflicts.

Design and operation should be orientated to provide short distances between modes, where possible minimising level changes. Inter-modal zones should be implemented in accordance with the attributes set out in the Interchange Zone hierarchy.

A detailed understanding of the likely demand for movement between modes and destinations at different times of day is essential. Design and operation of the interchange zone should cater for all required movements and be sufficiently flexible to deal with different conditions at different times.

See also Movement within an interchange facility and Movement within the wider interchange zone.

A legible environment makes navigation and movement easy and seamless helping improve peoples' understanding, enjoyment and experience. Elements that influence legibility include sightlines to destinations, consistency of materials, finishes and furniture, use of lighting and supporting information such as signs, maps and announcements. A legible interchange zone will result in quicker and less stressful movement, identify landmarks, nodes, pathways and operational thresholds and minimise the need for additional infrastructure and signs.

See also Legibility.

Does the interchange zone demonstrate acceptable standards of cleanliness, comfort and safety?

High standards of cleanliness help to create a sense of safety and security as well as minimising risk of accidents through trip hazards or slippery surfaces.

Minimum maintenance standards should always be met and exceeded where possible. Where an interchange zone may be a shared space with retail or other functions, tide marks resulting from different maintenance regimes may be avoided through adopting combined resources.

Added value can be realised through good staff visibility and presence, CCTV, inclusion of active frontages and creation of lively opportunity spaces that do not conflict with primary movement and decision spaces - all of which can improve users' perception and experience.

See also Safety & accident prevention and Personal security.

Does the interchange zone exceed minimum expectations for quality of materials and finishes?

Materials should always be fit for purpose and use of high quality materials, products and finishes does have a positive impact on user perceptions.

The specification of materials and maintenance regimes should demonstrate high standards of durability, environmental performance and attractiveness. The balance between durability, functionality and quality of design will vary depending on the situation but should take account of the needs and priorities of all interchange zone users.

Materials should be appropriate to the local context and enhance the character and quality of the interchange zone and its functions.

Lighting can increase legibility, accessibility, security and ambience of an interchange zone. It can create a variety of atmospheres, help to define paths between spaces without the need for additional infrastructure and highlight important features and destinations.

See also Legibility.

Provision of generous space and good natural light, particularly in underground environments, can improve the ambience of the space and create a natural beacon for wayfinding.

Scale should always be related to function and context of the interchange and its users.

The management of all interchange zones should meet with carbon emission, water and waste use targets, and minimise ongoing energy requirements. They should seek to maximise on-site energy generation and the use of alternative energy sources where possible.

See also Sustainability.

Case study examples